Janus, the ancient Roman God, is often considered the namesake of January. With his two faces, one looking at the past and the other toward the future, he certainly represents our marking of a new year with its mixture of retrospection and anticipation.
As the end of 2017 approached, I had the good fortune to find this wonderful vintage quilt top at Eighth Elm Farm Antiques in Vergennes, Vermont. How I know about this shop is a story unto itself, a bit of old combined with new involving the renewal of a long-time friendship and social media.
The antique shop is packed with the usual wares – furniture, art, ephemera, toys, tools, and of course linens and the like. I spotted this quilt top and could tell right away it was a gem. The construction was entirely by hand. There were a few spots and a little discoloration, but all in all it was in great shape for its age. The fabrics lead me to believe it is from the 1930s. I bought it without hesitation.
Upon closer inspection I realized the first thing it needed was a good washing. Although I did that carefully by hand, in my zeal to get it clean I used water that was a bit too warm. I didn’t notice until it was dry that a few of the red fabrics bled. I decided this was minor, and to not let it deter me from my final goal.
With the top in tow, I made a trip to my local quilt shop where I found the backing – a vintage looking beige neutral with navy stars. I chose navy blue for the binding. For the longarm quilting I wanted something not too fussy that would allow me to adapt as I ran into bulky seams.
The finished quilt is now a combination of old and new, simple and complex. It belongs in both centuries that contributed to its making – an Ode to Janus and our continual need to look to the past and to the future even as we celebrate the present moment.